Great Moments in Strat – April 2015

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We devote this edition of Great Moments to gamers’ fantastic finishes …
            Just read about John Barkoviak’s game-ending triple play w/ his Pale Hose, and had to send along my identical experience w/ my ’53 Bronx Bombers. Just got their replay underway and this lollapalooza happened only a few days ago. Have been playing SOMBB, cards and WIN for some 40 years and this is the first time this has ever happened to me. Included is the box score.
Jon Pitko
BOXSCORE: 1953 Boston Red Sox At 1953 New York Yankees              4/23/1953
 Red Sox             AB R H RBI AVG     Yankees             AB R H RBI AVG
 B.Goodman 2B    5  0  1  0 .333        G.Woodling LF     3  2 1  0  .235 
 J.Piersall RF         3  1  1  0 .273        P.Rizzuto SS          3 1 1  0  .167 
 G.Kell 3B           4  0  0  0 .179        J.Collins 1B           4  2 2  3  .240 
 D.Gernert 1B      3  1  2  3 .185       Y.Berra C             3  0 1  1  .471 
 S.White C          3  0  1  0 .179        M.Mantle CF         2  1 1  2  .364 
 G.Stephens LF     4  0  1  0 .176        H.Bauer RF           4 1 2  0  .257 
 T.Umphlett CF    4  0  1  0 .267        B.Martin 2B          4  0 0  0  .176 
 M.Bolling SS        4  1  2  0 .185        L.Babe 3B            3  0 0  1  .231 
 S.Hudson P         2  1  1  1 .500      B-G.McDougald 3B  0 0 0  0 .143 
A-A.Zarilla PH      1  0  0  0 .000        J.Sain P               3 0 0 0  .167 
 F.Sullivan P         0  0  0   0 —-        A.Schallock P        0 0 0 0   —- 
C-H.Evers PH       1  0  1  0 .500                                         
                         — — — —                                        — — — —     
          Totals      34 4 11 4                         Totals      29 7 8 7
A-Pinch Hit For Hudson In 7th Inning
B-Subbed Defensively (3B) For Babe In 9th Inning
C-Pinch Hit For Sullivan In 9th Inning
Red Sox……… 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 4 11 0
Yankees……… 0 1 3 0 3 0 0 0    – 7 8 1
Red Sox (2-6)           IP     H   R ER BB SO HR PC    ERA
S.Hudson LOSS(0-1)  6       8   7   7   2   3   2 103 10.50
F.Sullivan                 2       0   0   0   1   1   0 15   0.00
Totals                     8       8   7   7   3   4   2
Yankees (8-1)            IP       H   R ER BB SO HR PC   ERA
J.Sain WIN(2-0)          8      11   4   4   2   2   1 123   3.00
A.Schallock SAVE(1st) 1       0   0   0   0   0   0   2     0.00
Totals                       9      11   4   4   2   2   1
ATTENDANCE- 18,914 DATE- Thursday, April 23rd 1953 TIME- Day
T- 2:43
LEFT ON BASE- Red Sox: 6 Yankees: 3
DOUBLE PLAYS- Red Sox: 2 Yankees: 1
TRIPLE PLAYS- Red Sox: 0 Yankees: 1
DOUBLES- M.Bolling(1st), H.Bauer(3rd)
HOME RUNS- D.Gernert(2nd), J.Collins(2nd), M.Mantle(3rd)
RBIs- D.Gernert-3(6th), S.Hudson, J.Collins-3(4th), Y.Berra(8th),
      M.Mantle-2(9th), L.Babe(2nd)
STOLEN BASES- J.Piersall(1st)
WALKS- J.Piersall, D.Gernert, G.Woodling, Y.Berra, M.Mantle
STRIKE OUTS- G.Kell, G.Stephens, J.Collins, M.Mantle, B.Martin, J.Sain
GIDP- J.Piersall, H.Bauer-2
2-out RBI- D.Gernert-3, M.Mantle
RLISP 2-out- M.Mantle, T.Umphlett, G.Kell, M.Bolling
TEAM RISP- Red Sox: 3 for 10 Yankees: 2 for 5
WEB GEMS- Top 1st: Billy Martin robbed George Kell of a base hit.
          –> Top 9th: New York turns a triple play! <–
            I’m playing the upcoming 2015 MLB schedule using the new 2014 card set manually, on the computer. In only my third game, I had the most unlikely comeback I think I’ve ever had in my 45 years of playing Strat.
            David Price and the Detroit Tigers were cruising to an easy Opening Day win against the Minnesota Twins, ahead 9-1 after eight innings. Price came out of the game handing the ball to Al Albuquerque to pitch the 9th. After he recorded just one out and surrendered a walk and three hits, the Twins had narrowed the score to 9-3 and Albuquerque was pulled. Joba Chamberlain was called in but could not retire a single batter, giving up three more hits and leaving the game with the score 9-6. Now a save situation for Joe Nathan, who gave up another hit making it 9-7. After Colabello struck out, Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run homerun tying the game 9-9. Nathan finally got out of the inning and Anthony Swarzak then pitched a scoreless bottom of the 9th. Nathan started the top of the 10th, hitting Suzuki with a pitch. Hicks pinch ran, stole a base and eventually scored after Nathan was removed. The Twins scored twice in the inning and Perkins would pitch a perfect bottom of the 10th to seal the 11-9 win for the Twins, leaving the home crowd stunned.
            I can’t recall any game where a team has comeback from such a large deficit so late in the game to win.
K Hall, Stony Point, NY
            After a mini 1957 replay (63 games) the World Series matchup was no surprise: It was the Milwaukee Braves and NY Yankees in the World Series. Game Three became a 21-inning marathon, with incredible dramatics. (Mickey Mantle hit a two-run HR to tie in the ninth, and Andy Carey for NY hit a solo HR to tie it in the 21st). It was the longest C&D Strat-O-Matic game I have ever rolled.
            Where do you even begin, when recapping this game? The game looked all but over in the ninth, as the Yankees trailed by two, 6-4.  But Enos Slaughter walked, and with two outs, AL MVP Mantle hit a game-tying, two-run homerun over the right field fence, and the endurance race began. (It was Mantle’s second homerun of the game)
            The Braves used every one of their available players, both position players and pitchers, and the Yankees used every player but pitchers Don Larsen, Tom Sturdivant, and Whitey Ford (Ford and Sturdivant started games one and two). The Yankees left 21 men on base and the Braves left 22.   Milwaukee was just 4-21 with runners in scoring position. Aaron and Mantle each recorded 10 ABs for the game.
            Yogi Berra played all 21 innings, as the Yankees exhausted their bench by the 14th. Perhaps due to fatigue, it looked like Yogi would cost the Yankees the game in the 21st. Logan, Adcock, and Burdette (pinch hitter) all reached base before an out was recorded. Following a Pafko popout, Berra misplayed a pitch from Yankee pitcher Tommy Byrne and Logan scored on the passed ball. After a walk to Red Schoendienst, with the infield playing in, Del Rice hit into a 5-2-3 double play on a great snag by Carey. Carey’s heroics had just begun.
            Bottom of the 21st: The Braves, with only Spahn and Jolly left on the bench, turned the ball over to Dave Jolly to the collective sigh of Milwaukee Braves’ fans. (Spahn was tabbed to start Game Four and pitched in Game One). However, Jolly got the Yankees to hit into two quick ground outs, and the game looked all but wrapped up. Berra and Mantle were the final two outs of the 20th, so there would be no “How do I pitch to Mantle?” thoughts to contend with.
            Somewhere, someone must have said a prayer for New York, because the Yankees rekindled the same ninth-inning magic many hours and innings later in the 21st. Carey, who was in the game because starting 3B Tony Kubek left in the 3rd with an injury, blasted a solo homerun off Jolly to tie the game at 7-7. Perhaps the “not going with Warren Spahn” move didn’t look too good now; and perhaps more thought should have gone into “How do I pitch to Carey?”
            With the game knotted, and following a walk to Jerry Coleman, an angry-looking Fred Haney quickly went to Spahn, his last bench player, to get the last out of the 21st. However, Slaughter singled, and Hank Bauer walked. With the bases juiced, Spahn still couldn’t quite find his location and Gil McDougald worked a game-winning walk. The Yankees win on a magical night for New York, 8-7, and take a 2-1 Series lead.
Kyle, Berlin, Germany
            Two flat out freaking AMAZING games to start out the 1977 Pirates-1973 Mets series in the 1970s Replay League that I have on the Strat Fan Forum:
Game 1 – Seaver vs. Candelaria … Felix Millan HR’s on the first pitch to put the Mets up 1-0. Bucs score in the B2 to tie it at 1. Mets take the lead again top 5 on a Bud Harrelson single that scored Ted Martinez. Seaver is cruising into the 9th up 2-1. First batter, Stargell flies to LF. Next batter Bill Robinson: HR! Tied. Next batter Rennie Stennett: HR! Bucs win 3-2!
Game 2 – Mets take a 6-4 lead into the 9th. Al Oliver doubles off McGraw and scores on a double by Willie Stargell. Tied! Bill Robinson singles, sends Pops to third. Rennie Stennett again: Sac fly to left, Stargell’s racing home and BEATS the throw from Cleon Jones. SAFE! UNREAL!
John R. Nocero, Euclid, OH
            Twice down 17 points, my teams rallied to the championship. First, the 1963 New York Giants, 14-0 during the season, trailed the Western Division Champion Chicago Bears 17-0 in the second quarter of the NFL Championship. Despite seven turnovers from N.Y. (4 INT from Y.A. Tittle), the Giants tied the game 20-20 in the fourth quarter on Tittle’s third TD pass with 1:45 to go. Then, after Chicago missed a 41-yard field goal attempt with 52 seconds left, the Giants took over from their 20 with no timeouts. Tittle went 4 of 5 for 46 yards and killed the clock with one second remaining. Don Chandler, who missed an XP earlier, connected on a 41-yard game winner as time expired. Perfect season. I didn’t think that could be topped.
            The 1978 Houston Oilers did just that. In a season that ended 14-2 to beat out the Steelers for the division (unlikely in itself) the Oilers ground out two home wins to get to the Super Bowl. My QB, Dan Pastorini, in those two games combined, threw for 205 yards, 0 TD, and 3 INTs. It was all Earl Campbell (combined 36-205 and 2 TD’s) and a tough defense that forced five turnovers. But it wasn’t looking as if the Oilers had a chance, down 24-7 to the Los Angeles Rams with under five minutes remaining in the half. As Houston received the kickoff following L.A.’s third TD, Pastorini was finally good enough. He guided his team 67 yards in 3:30 (a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on a 3rd and 8 incomplete pass helped) and threw his first touchdown pass of the postseason. Rams 24, Oilers 14. OK, there’s a chance.
            Next, the Rams got the ball back with 45 seconds left in the half. They ran three plays totaling -11 yards and I called my remaining timeouts. Fifteen seconds left and they punted from their 20. I’m thinking, with a good return and a pass play that stops the clock, maybe I can attempt a long field goal. Toni Frisch had only one miss all year. Instead, the inconceivable happened. Ronnie Coleman returned the punt 60 yards for the Oilers first kick/punt return touchdown of the season! Rams 24, Oilers 21. Two touchdowns in 37 seconds! Superbowl XIII suddenly turned Oiler Blue. Comeback, again? It certainly felt possible.
            However, in the second half, the Oilers offense sputtered. They took the second-half kickoff, brought the ball to LA’s one, and eschewing the potential tying chip-shot field goal, failed on three tries to score a TD, turning the ball over on downs. No coach would live that down if his team wound up losing. But I felt another touchdown was needed to win. The Rams responded with a long drive and a field goal, making the lead six. Next, Houston got the ball to the Rams 14 and took the short field goal. Rams 27, Oilers 24. The Rams added another field goal, putting their lead back to six with 11 minutes to play. With 6:30 to play, Houston had the ball down six, 87 yards from the end zone. Campbell, dominant in two previous playoff wins, had to this point 5 yards on 17 carries. Pastorini had thrown two interceptions. This drive, however, allowed Oiler fans to die happy. Campbell ripped off 14 yards to start the drive. Fullback Tim Wilson came up huge, gaining 24 on a third and 3 from Houston’s 34. Pastorini, playing big exactly when needed, hit 5 of 5 passes for 59 yards. With a minute and a half remaining, he found Rob Carpenter for a six-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. XP good. Oilers 31, Rams 30. 
            The Rams had one more chance. Good field position at their 30. But, with no timeouts remaining and the Rams at the Oilers’ 41, Ted Washington pulled down John Cappelletti in bounds after a short gain. Tick, tick, game over. The Oilers, down 17, had won the Super Bowl! The Houston Oilers! LUV YA BLUE!
Rob Mayer, Flagstaff, AZ

            Sir Edmund Hillary was the first to climb to the top of Mt. Everest. Roger Bannister completed the first sub-four minute mile. And Neil Armstrong was the first to walk on the surface of the moon. Fantastic achievements to be sure, but they all pale next to the achievement of my friend Stan Johnson and I.
            On Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at approximately 2:15 pm, Pacific Time, we completed the 1,504th and final game of a 200-team Strat-O-Matic baseball tournament that we had begun over five years previous. The crowd was small (2 dogs on my living room couch, one lying on a blanket on the floor) and napped through much of that final game, but I know they were secretly thrilled to be witness to our historical achievement. All games were played face-to-face, dice-only. Approximately 56,000 batters came to the plate during the tournament.
            Each of the 200 teams represented a composite of a real MLB franchise’s teams over a three-year stretch somewhere from 1959 to 2003. For instance, the top seeded team in the tournament was the 1969-71 Baltimore Orioles. Their tournament roster was comprised of 24 player cards drawn from the 1969, 1970, and 1971 seasons.   Since each of the 200 teams drew from a three-season span, our tournament actually included players from potentially 600 of the 1,118 team seasons between 1959 and 2003, guaranteeing that virtually all the stars and near-stars from that 45-year era would be represented at least once.
            We ranked the 200 teams based on a combination of their real life win-loss records and their runs scored and runs allowed. The top 56 teams were given a bye for the first round. All series would be best 5 games out of 9. The 144 teams who didn’t get byes in round one were paired off, with the 72 winners advancing to round two where they were joined by the 56 teams which had byes in the first round. Each subsequent round saw the elimination of half the remaining teams until finally just two teams remained.
            The favored team in the final was the 1995-97 Atlanta Braves, who were ranked #14 of the original 200 tournament teams. They featured great starting pitching (Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Neagle) and a powerful lineup featuring Chipper Jones, David Justice, Javier Lopez, Jeff Blauser, Fred McGriff, Marquis Grissom, Andruw Jones and Ryan Klesko.
            Their opponent was the underdog 1959-61 Detroit Tigers, who were ranked #77. The Tigers featured a downright terrifying quartet in the middle of their lineup consisting of Al Kaline (27 HRs, .327), Norm Cash (41 HRs, .361, 124 Walks), Rocky Colavito (45 HRs, .290, 113 Walks), and batting champ Harvey Kuenn (.353). And leading off for the Tigers was Ned Yost (.435 On Base Pct). What a nightmare for opposing pitchers!
            My greatest fear was that it would turn into a one-sided affair, but the final totally lived up to its five-year buildup. The Braves and Tigers split the first eight games, meaning that Game 9 was for all the marbles. For the Braves it was Maddux on the mound with his fantastic 1995 card (19 wins, 2 losses, 1.63 ERA). The Tiger starter was Don Mossi, a solid but not spectacular hurler whose nickname was “The Sphinx of Ears.” Take one look at his photo on the Baseball Encyclopedia website and you’ll see why!
            The Tigers struck first, scoring 3 runs in the top of the 3rd. Al Kaline’s 2-run homer was the key blow. The Braves quickly struck back for 2 runs in the bottom half of the inning. The Tigers mounted multiple threats against Maddux but the crafty righty kept wiggling out of trouble. In the bottom of the 6th Marquis Grissom smashed a game-tying homer off reliever Hank Aguirre and then, two batters later, the light-hitting second sacker Mark Lemke shocked the fans (all 3 of them!) with a solo homer that gave the Braves their first lead, 4-3.
            When the Tigers came up in the top of the 9th they still trailed 4-3 and the mighty Maddux was still on the mound. Pinch-hitter Charlie Maxwell led off with a single and then Ned Yost doubled off the left field wall with Maxwell holding at third. The Tigers now had the light- hitting Frank Bolling at the plate. With two runners in scoring position and no outs, Maddux was in trouble. If the Braves played the infield in and Bolling swung away, both runners might score and then they’d have to deal with Cash, Kaline, Kuenn, and Colavito. They decided to play the infield back even though Bolling was a good bunter who might try to squeeze in the tying run.
            Surprisingly, Bolling didn’t bunt. He sent a fly ball deep enough for Maxwell to tag up and score the tying run. Maddux managed to strike out the dangerous Cash and Kaline lined out, sending the game to the bottom of the 9th.
            The Tigers brought in Bob Bruce. Leadoff hitter Jeff Blauser flied out, bringing Dave Justice to the plate. Justice already had three base hits in the game and was hoping for a fourth. Somewhere fans may be crying, and somewhere children pout, but none are sad in Bravesville, because Justice just hit one out! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!
            What a great ending to our 5-year Strato odyssey, having the final, winner-take-all championship game end on a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning! It was great fun and a cool way for a couple of Baby Boomers to spend time nurturing their baseball passions, but I don’t think we’ll be starting any new 200-team tournaments in the near future.   
 Bill Bell, North Bend, OR